When it comes to gems the hidden ones are often stories, not stones. Welcome to Demystified, where we look beyond the jewelry box, past our closets, and into the depths of our most cherished possessions to reveal their cross-cultural significance.
When a piece of jewelry is used to commemorate an occasion, it becomes so much more than a cool gift. These kinds of accessories are the crystallization of our emotions and a way of communicating something special to another person without actually saying anything at all. An evil eye amulet, for example, tells them you want to know they'll be safe. A diamond ring asks for lifelong commitment. Precious metals and stones can even be a measurement for marriage: silver is 25 years, ruby is 40, gold is 50... and so on. But nothing says "forever" quite like the slightly less glamorous (but equally as charming) love knot.
They may be bad news when found tangled up in your hair or muscle tissue, but in the design world, knots are actually a good thing. By looping around itself continuously, a knot has no start or end point. As a result, its many twists and spirals have come to signify infinite love and partnership. "When two things are knotted together, they are inseparable and unbreakable," says Lee Paytner, a designer from the British jewelry atelier Latelita. "This is why knots are often used to symbolize unity." It's also nothing new, she explains, with the graphical representation of knots dating back to antiquity in the form of Egyptian sculptures, Grecian decorative items, and Celtic art. The knot work of her own Scottish and Irish ancestors has inspired what Paytner describes as autobiographical collections that incorporate a nod to her heritage with a more contemporary twist, if you will.
The romance and fluidity of these interwoven ringlets has not gone unnoticed by industry heavyweights like Kate Spade and Tiffany & Co., but Celine's adoption of the symbol is the most significant. Their current selection of knotted bangles and rings isn't an attempt to tie up loose ends during a transitional period for the brand, but a way of drawing deeper connections to its recent history. "The knot pattern is interpreted into easy-to-wear, symbolic and timeless bracelets, rings and hoops," Maison Celine shared with Refinery29 in a statement, explaining that the existing designs come from an original model that was hand-made in wax back in 2011. Creative director Hedi Slimane, now a year into his role, might've dropped that famed accent aigu at the start of his reign, but the legacy of his predecessor is not one Philofiles are quick to forget — and this knotty set of accessories proves that Celine won't be detaching itself from its past any time soon.
As we speed through January and dive head-first into Valentine's Day prep, we're here to help you upgrade your gifting game with a roundup of pieces featuring this subtle little symbol. Even if it's for a birthday or an anniversary, you will not (or should we say knot?) regret replacing the heart pendants with something a little less obvious that sends the same important message.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.